MEMPHIS, Tenn. – USL President Jake Edwards confirmed on Tuesday that Memphis was set to join the league’s expansion class for the league’s 2019 season in an interview with the Memphis Business Journal’s Meagan Nichols.
The side would add a second team in Tennessee to the league following the entry of Nashville SC for the 2018 USL season, and increase the league’s footprint in the Southeast of the United States.
“We have approved an ownership group,” Edwards told Nichols. “We have approved the stadium plan they have presented to us, and we have now approved moving forward with Memphis to have a USL club starting for the 2019 season.”
Memphis would join another expansion side in Birmingham, Alabama, for the 2019 USL season, with the league also set to return to Austin, Texas, the same year. With a thriving local soccer community that includes strong men’s and women’s college programs at the University of Memphis, the opportunity to bring professional soccer to the city was an attractive proposition for both the league and potential local ownership.
“Memphis is a tremendous sports city with passionate fans and supporters,” Memphis Redbirds President, General Manager and minority owner Craig Unger told Nichols. “Coupled with the continued revitalization of Downtown, the time has never been better for investment in the city and its people.”
Talks between the league and the approved ownership group have been going on for more than a year, with the market being another that fits well into the group of Southeastern cities that already populate the league. Edwards believes the success of newcomers like 2017 USL Cup champion Louisville City FC, and the projections Nashville SC has shown already with more than 2,000 season tickets sold already prior to its inaugural season will be replicated in Memphis.
“Soccer fans in Memphis are going to be very excited,” Edwards told Nichols. “We’ve got some phenomenal players playing in the USL. It is a really high level of professional soccer.”